It’s been one month since I’ve seen your beautiful face. It’s still hard to believe you’re gone, Paige.
As a parent, it’s natural for us to worry for our children. From the day we become the protectors of an innocent, fragile little life, things forever change. We experience a version of love that we never knew was even humanly possible. It’s the strongest kind of love I’ve ever known and am grateful to have had the privilege of experiencing the phenomenon for fourteen and a half beautiful years.
This overwhelming love for our children takes over our entire existence and introduces us to a whole new level of lifelong worry. With such a strong sense of love and instinctual need to protect these beings, it’s natural to experience a healthy amount of fear that accompanies that love and to work towards finding the delicate balance between the two.
Kids make us worry, like that time you broke your leg while going down that slide before you even turned two. Or again when you broke your hand while playing soccer. I worried for you on your first day of middle school when you got on the wrong bus and headed to the wrong school. I felt extremely awful and was absolutely terrified for you. We had the police searching for you and until that point, I had never been so scared in my life. You didn’t mind too much once it all worked out and you finally got your first phone (you’d been begging for) the next day.
While it was always my instinctual job to worry, I had never prepared myself for your death. You were always a happy, healthy child. Beautiful, bright, talented, overwhelmingly kind and accepting of everyone. An impressive black belt in Tang Soo Do and a compassionate and patient teacher to your students. The former captain of several soccer teams and a talented instrumental musician and singer; just days away from your middle school graduation, ready to dive on into the world of high school. You never had a pre-existing medical condition and got regular physicals just like any kid.
On June 8th, while having a great day with her friends, Paige suddenly fainted and went into cardiac arrest. Although rescue workers were able to get to her very quickly and did their best, it took at least 11 minutes to bring her back to life. Paige fell into a coma and was flown via helicopter to a children’s hospital, where we spent the following 5-6 days in a terrifying blur of an unreal nightmare. We gripped on to any and all shreds of hope we could muster that our incredibly brave and strong teenager would wake up and come back to us.
Unfortunately, her body and all of her organs suffered too much physical damage. Paige’s father and I (along with my father) held Paige in our arms as she left her body here in this world.
One month and it seems like just yesterday, yet forever ago all at once. Time has stood still and for a while made no sense at all.
I’ve always said that you saved me. I’m not sure if I’d be here today had you not come into my life and turn it around in the most magical way. You’ve taught me so much about life and continue to do so every day since you’ve been gone.
I guess in the most “messed up” way, things have really clicked for me since I left that hospital without you. I know what I have to do with my life. You gave me an overwhelming and unexplainable amount of strength the first few days after you left. Your presence has been so strong for many of us who love you.
I could feel that you wanted me to help your little sister, your cousins, and your dear young friends through this. Kids are supposed to be kids and not have to worry too much about death, especially when it comes to losing their fellow peers. This has been so heartbreaking for so MANY people.
I was able to do my best to put on a brave face and help those kids and my family and intend to continue to do so for as long as I am able. I know you want me to really get serious about making a difference in the lives of others and I intend to do my very best to make you proud and get our message across.
Like those I know who have experienced grief told me it would, the pain comes in waves. Although your presence was overwhelming the first few days and you continue to show you’re still with us, doing what you can to guide and comfort us, the reality of your absence creeps in a bit heavier with each day. Since the hole left in our hearts is still so new and raw, there is a sense of sadness we carry around at all times. Yet nonetheless, we carry on. We go about our lives as we have to, because although our world has come crashing down, the rest of the world does not slow down for a moment.
We do our best to function and push on in your name, but every so often, the tidal wave of grief comes crashing down upon us and shakes us to the core. Trying to start a new life without you here is strange and foreign. It hurts.
I know in my heart that you came here for a purpose and a serious mission in which you filled to it’s fullest. A mission that is difficult for us as humans with egos to accept and understand. We miss you, Paige. And how could we not?
You came here with a plan. To touch so many lives. To accomplish so much, and you did. You still are. I know you still have a lot of work to do. You will continue to watch over all of us. To inspire us. To be an example of what and who we should always strive to be. A reminder to love each other a little harder. To not allow the trivial inconveniences of life sway the incredible gift of each day. To find joy in the smallest things, as you always did because after all, this part of life is all too short.
It’s still (at times) hard to believe you’re gone from this life. The wave will come and go, likely forever. But I find solace in knowing you are safe. You are happy and loved and forever with us. I’ll do my best to make you proud and lead by your example, Paige. I love you more than words could ever express. I am so grateful for every moment I’ve been blessed to have known you. You are my sunshine. Forever.